Words by Mike Wilson, Sustainability Lead at Garçon Wines
Started by the UN Environment Programme in 1974, World Environment Day has been established to celebrate our natural environment with the support of governments, businesses and citizens. Celebrated every year on the 5th June, it provides an opportunity for people all around the world to showcase their efforts in helping restore the natural world.
Every three seconds, the world loses enough forest to cover a football pitch and as much as 50% of our coral reefs have already been lost. Therefore it’s vital that we all play our part in raising awareness that only with healthy ecosystems can the livelihoods of billions be improved, can we help fight the climate crisis and bring about a stop to the collapse of biodiversity.
As the responsibility sits with us as citizens, how we choose to act upon it can be reflected in all aspects of our lives. While instigating change from an individual level can often be very powerful, a lot of the effective change will come from an organisational and legislative level.
How organisations determine and understand how best to approach this responsibility can be complicated, but The Five Capitals framework for sustainability highlights most simply the importance of the environment. Natural Capital is summarised as “the world’s stocks of natural assets, which include geology, soil, air, water, and all living things [and] it is from this natural capital that humans derive a wide range of services, often called ecosystem services, which make human life possible” (Viederman, 1994). From here all other sources of Capital (Social, Human, Financial and Manufactured) can then be managed. To highlight the value of our Natural Capital, a 2020 report showed that 55% of global GDP (equal to $41 trillion dollars) is dependent on high-functioning biodiversity and ecosystem services.
This then provides us with a clear indication as to the importance of World Environment Day and the intrinsic value of our natural world across every aspect of our lives.
2021 – The start of our most important decade
In a year where over 200 countries will meet at COP26 to agree on how we can collectively prevent a peaking of Earth’s temperature by 2030, and this month’s G7 summit, the gathering of the world’s seven largest advanced economies, 2021 is also the launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. Its aim is to prevent, halt and reverse ecosystem degradation as part of the World Environment Day.
Nature can and must be a part of the solution to decarbonize all aspects of our daily lives. Ecosystem restoration can help protect and improve livelihoods, regulate disease, and reduce risk of natural disasters. While these may be quite overwhelming in their scale, we can all play our part in helping restore ecosystems closer to home. Simple changes such as avoiding using chemicals in your garden, creating a wildflower patch on your lawn or placing flowering plants on your balcony, all help in providing an opportunity for nature to take back some control and restore itself.
Ecosystems in the world of wine
For Garçon Wines, as innovators in the world of wine packaging, we and our customers rely on nature to provide the liquid that goes in our bottles. Most specifically, wine grapes and the regions they grow in are becoming ever more under threat from the impacts of the climate crisis. 2020 research has highlighted the severe threat climate change poses to the wine industry and described wine grape growing as the “canary in the agricultural coal mine”. A scenario where Earth’s temperature warms by 2 degrees could result in a loss of 56% of the suitable wine grape growing regions.
While you might be worried at the loss of your favourite glass of rosé or pinot noir, with this vulnerability also comes the opportunity to innovate and diversify to prevent complete loss of certain wine grape growing regions. The same research showed that diversification of the grape varietals could reduce the impact of 2 degrees of warming from 56% to 24%, which critically highlights the role that human decisions play in building agricultural systems resilient to climate change.
The importance of our natural world cannot be underestimated, as it is the fundamental reason for our existence. With this understanding comes great responsibility to ensure we maintain our natural environment, and as Sir David Attenborough has said “it’s surely our responsibility to do everything within our power to create a planet that provides a home not just for us, but for all life on Earth”. World Environment Day is a platform for inspiring positive change, and we believe our unique flat wine bottles are an example of the step-change innovation needed to inspire the wine industry to make the necessary changes to significantly reduce its carbon footprint.